By By (author) Kingshuk Chatterjee
This e-book tells the tale of the way Shari'ati constructed a language of political Islam, talking in an idiom intelligible to the Iranian public and subverting the Shah's regime and its declare to legitimacy.
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Extra resources for ‘Ali Shari’ati and the Shaping of Political Islam in Iran
Communitarian, ethnic, and linguistic identities that had been the bedrock of social formations till the early twentieth century were being dismissed out of hand. Shi’i and Sunni, Muslims and Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, Turks and Arabs were summarily asked to stop sporting any of these identities, and to become Iranian almost overnight. However, Reza Shah never had a definite political outfit or social group that supported him consistently and continuously. Groups and social 30 ‘ALI SHARI’ATI AND POLITICAL ISLAM IN IRAN classes that supported him on one issue very often fell out over another.
Finally, in the conclusion, it is argued that Shari’ati’s critique is Islamic in character because he was devising a new set of signifiers and signified to refer to the referent of Islam. He was not suggesting the revival of any old order that claimed to be Islamic, rather he was laying down what he believed an Islamic order should be like, where Islamic was meant to be a signifier of an ideal that Shari’ati understood to be the “essence” of Islam. 1 The dynamics of politics in the last two decades of the Qajar dynasty, the negotiation of power in the kingdom between the Qajar rulers and their subjects since the Mashruteh (Constitutional) revolution of 1906, helped evolve new languages of power and politics that, they believe, continue to be relevant in modern Iran, redefining the relationship between the state and the society, the state and the individual, and the society and the individual.
61 Like elsewhere in the Muslim world, confronted with the “manifest” material superiority of the west, Iranians started to look for the cause of their own relative backwardness. 62 Many Iranians came to believe that such fatalism impeded the search for new ideas and new experiences in their society, as the public space was so overwhelmingly swayed by Islamic considerations. Their preferred solution, as in other Muslim societies, was to reform the society in the light of advances in the realm of knowledge, made in the west but adaptable anywhere.